Ceylon oak is a monotypic genus of plants in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. There is only one species, Schleichera oleosa
, a tree that occurs in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
This tree grows naturally from the foothills of the Himalayas and the western Deccan to Sri Lanka and China. It was probably introduced to Malaysia and has naturalized in Indonesia It grows in Bihar, Central and Southern parts of India. The tree occurs sporadically, seldom gregariously in dry, mixed deciduous forests.
Ceylon oak is a beautiful tree with a broad, shady crown, found widespread in Tropical Himalayas (Punjab to Nepal), India, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malaysia. This tree is mostly noticed because of its bright red leaves when they are new. In India this happens around March. The leaves are pinnate, with each leaf having 2-4 pairs of leaflets. Flowers are tiny, occuring in short dense yellow clusters. The flowers are hardly noticeable. The fruit is about the size of a small plum.
Powdered seeds are applied to wounds and ulcers of cattle to remove maggots. The bark is astringent and is used against leprotic ruptures, skin inflammations and ulcers, while an infusion is taken against malaria. The bark contains about 10% tannin and the analgesic compound lupeol. The antitumor agents betulin and betulic acid have also been isolated from it. In traditional medicine, the oil obtained from the seed is applied externally to cure itching, acne and other skin afflictions. Massaging the oil into the scalp is said to promote the growth of hair lost through baldness